A local look at the government shutdown impact on free and reduced lunch recipients

The government is reopened for the next three weeks, which will give schools a little more time to work out a plan for their free and reduced lunch programs.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 7:00 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history has come to an end. But if government leaders don't make a border security deal, we could see another government shutdown.

According to Lafayette School Corporation Superintendent Les Huddle, the government being reopened for the next three weeks will give schools a little more time to work out a plan for free and reduced lunch programs.

“In all my years in education, dealing with the potential shutdown of the school lunch program is just something we've never dealt with before,” said Huddle.

Huddle said, had the government shutdown continued, schools across the county would see its effect as early as March.

“Should we get closer to March, we'll start looking at plans A, B, and C whatever those are going to be,” said Huddle.

He said it wasn't until recently concerns about the government shutdown arose.

“We started conversation two weeks ago with Chartwell, our food service vendor and just said, hey how's it impacting you,” said Huddle.

Chartwell is a federally-funded food vendor. Without receiving money from the government it has a ripple effect, which eventually hits the school system.

“Our food service vendor receives the funds and then they go out to their vendors to buy their milk and their carrots and all their products with that money,” said Huddle.

The Lafayette School Corporation oversees 7,600 students. 70% of them are provided with a free or reduced breakfast and lunch every day. Huddle said plans are in the works in case another government shutdown occurs.

“We would be able to probably use some of our own funds to continue to provide that with the hope, there's no guarantee, but with the hope that the school corporation would get the funds reimbursed,” said Huddle.

Huddle said one thing's for sure, he will not let students go hungry.

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